Favorite Essay Prompts
This is a small sample of the essays our students are responding to. If you would like us to add one or more of your favorites, please contact us.
University of Michigan
Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Approximately 250 words)
Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Max 500 words)
Michigan State University
Choose one (Max 400 words)
- Michigan State University recognizes that an assortment of interests, viewpoints, and life experiences are important in student learning and enhance the university community. Describe an experience, passion, or characteristic that illustrates what you would contribute to the MSU community and how this will add to the overall richness of campus life.
- Describe a significant experience from the past two years which required you to interact with someone outside of your own social or cultural group (ethnic, religious, geographic, socioeconomic, etc.). How did this impact you? What did you learn and what surprised you?
Cornell University – College of Arts and Sciences
Describe your intellectual interests, their evolution, and what makes them exciting to you. Tell us how you will utilize the academic programs in the College of Arts and Sciences to further explore your interests, intended major, or field of study. (Max 500 words)
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins offers 50 majors across the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. On this application, we ask you to identify one or two that you might like to pursue here. Why did you choose the way you did? If you are undecided, why didn’t you choose? (If any past courses or academic experiences influenced your decision, you may include them in your essay.) (250 words)
Tell us something about yourself or your interests that we wouldn’t learn by looking at the rest of your application materials. (While you should still pay attention to sentence structure and grammar, your response is meant as a way for us to get to know you, rather than a formal essay.) (250 words)
University of Chicago
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago. (1-2 paragraphs)
(Optional): Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own. (1-2 paragraphs)
1: “A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” -Oscar Wilde. Othello and Iago. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. The Autobots and the Decepticons. History and art are full of heroes and their enemies. Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined).
2: Heisenberg claims that you cannot know both the position and momentum of an electron with total certainty. Choose two other concepts that cannot be known simultaneously and discuss the implications. (Do not consider yourself limited to the field of physics.)
3: Susan Sontag, AB’51, wrote that “silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.” Write about an issue or a situation when you remained silent, and explain how silence may speak in ways that you did or did not intend. The Aesthetics of Silence, 1967.
4: “…I [was] eager to escape backward again, to be off to invent a past for the present.” -The Rose Rabbi by Daniel Stern
Present: prese-ent. 1. Something that is offered, presented, or given as a gift
Let’s stick with this definition. Unusual presents, accidental presents, metaphorical presents, re-gifted presents, etc. – pick any present you have ever received and invent a past for it.
5: In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful, then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.
6: So where is Waldo, really?
(250 words each)
Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate – and us – know you better.
What matters to you, and why?
Please respond to one of the following questions: A, B, or C. (2000 characters)
A. Why are you going to college?
B. Sculptor Jacques Lipchitz once said, “Cubism is like standing at a certain point on a mountain and looking around. If you go higher, things will look different; if you go lower, again they will look different. It is a point of view.” With this in mind, describe a moment when your perspective changed.
C. What question could we ask to gain the most insight into you? What is your answer?
What are the unique qualities of Northwestern – and of the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying – that make you want to attend the University? In what ways do you hope to take advantage of the qualities you have identified?
University of Pennsylvania
A Penn education provides a liberal arts and sciences foundation across multiple disciplines with a practical emphasis in one of four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Nursing, or the Wharton School. Given the undergraduate school to which you are applying, please discuss how you will engage academically at Penn. (300 words or less)
Ben Franklin once said, ‘All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.’ Which are you? (300-500 words)
(For Arts and Sciences Applicants Only) If you are applying to Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular at Duke that attracts you? Please limit your response to one or two paragraphs.
Please reflect on something you would like us to know about you that we might not learn from the rest of your application—or on something that you would like to say more about. We ask that you limit your essay to fewer than 500 words. Before you begin, we encourage you to go to http://admissions.yale.edu/essay, where you will find helpful advice.
You are invited to share more about yourself and why you want to be a part of the Loyola community. Or, feel free to use this opportunity to share information about a significant leadership or service experience you may have had while in high school. You may also choose to submit a sample of your writing from a class or project. Please limit your response to 500 words or less.
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